FA-50s committed to better defense of peninsula

4:21:00 AM
SEOUL, -- FA-50, Korea's first homegrown light attack-aircraft, was used on its first official mission late last month and Air Force Lt. Col. Cho Sang-hwan described deployment of the plane as a "watershed in the history" of the Korean military.

On Oct. 30, the Air Force held a ceremony to celebrate the airplane's operational deployment, which was attended by President Park Geun-hye.

The FA-50 is a variant of the T-50 supersonic trainer jet, manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

"The ceremony confirmed the transition from analog aircraft to digital, displaying a combination of the nation's advanced aviation technology and top-notch pilots and maintenance crews," said Cho, commander of the 103rd Flight Squadron, home to the light attack aircraft.

Since August 2013, 20 FA-50s have been deployed to the Air Force and 40 more are scheduled to enter service by the end of 2016.

The Air Force plans to use the indigenous aircraft in place of its aging F-5 fighters.

However, there are lingering doubts over whether the "low-class" airplane will be able to replace the much-touted F-5s.

Cho believes that reputation does not matter in this case, stressing that the FA-50 has more advanced features than the F-5s.

"The FA-50 shows quicker and more precise strike capability than the F-5 using Korea GPS Guided Bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munitions and a wind corrected munitions dispenser," he said.

"In addition, the digitalized aircraft can execute advanced air combat maneuvering and its tactical data-link system enables pilots to judge real-time combat situations."

Cho is the first commanding officer of the unit to fly the FA-50s.

"Beginning with the ceremony, our men will try our very best to keep the FA-50s ready to fight," he said.

The Air Force officer also hoped that the FA-50 deployment would contribute to the nation's indigenous fighter project, codenamed "KF-X."

"The successful transition from the T-50 to the FA-50 will give important baseline data for the KF-X project. Using my experience, I want to contribute to the scheme moving along, even if it's only in a small way," he said.

The FA-50 has emerged as a hot military item internationally also, and already deals to sell 24 aircraft to Iraq and 12 to the Philippines have been made.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Fighting Eagle  supersonic advanced trainer and multirole light fighter aircraft.



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